Name: Stephen Williams
Hometown: San Diego, Calif.
Major: Pastoral ministry
MM: What is pastoral ministry?
SW: My senior year in high school, I wanted to be a communications major and a theology major, and [my advisor asked me if I had heard of] pastoral ministry. Pastoral ministry is essentially communications and theology. You learn deep, theological ideals so that you know them enough and the communicative skills to deliver that message to people. The way you describe the Trinity would be different if you describe it to a child, a teen or an older person, because they all understand the Trinity on different levels. Pastoral ministry would teach you what the Trinity is and how to describe it to people in all different stages of life.
MM: What made you choose this degree?
SW: I came to [the University of Dallas] as a double major in history and theology, with a minor in pastoral ministry. My first semester of UD, I took a history course, a theology course, and a pastoral ministry course. I was comparing my theology class to my pastoral ministry class, and my heart felt more connected to the pastoral ministry classes. I loved the approach of learning how to apply the certain concepts. It was hard for me to describe what I was learning in my theology class to my parents because they weren’t there for the entire lecture, but for my pastoral ministry classes, now I have the skills to describe what I learned. I love that I can learn it and then learn how to share it. I decided to switch majors my second semester because I was just so excited to take my pastoral ministry classes, and I didn’t have that same enthusiasm for theology.
MM: How are you living out what this teaches you in your daily life?
SW: We don’t have a thesis. Instead, you have to do an internship for a year. During that internship, you have to create a portfolio of all of the work you’ve done, putting in 18 hours a week at a parish, and you have to do a huge project at that site to show that you’re understanding the need of that community. … After you’ve done that huge project, you have to present it to the whole faculty of the School of Ministry.
Right now, I am the undergraduate student intern at campus ministry at UD, so this past weekend I was the co-director of freshman retreat. This is my big project so far, and I’ll have a couple of other jobs throughout the semester. I’m really lucky in the fact that my major lets me directly practice my learning, which is a huge reason why I like the major. It’s very practical because you get to do it now and test your skills. You don’t just learn it in the classroom. You learn, ‘Was that useful, or should I use a new approach?’ It’ll come in handy when I apply for jobs that my major forced me to do an internship for a year. It gives you a leg up.
MM: What would you like to do in the future with this?
SW: Right now, I’m at a crossroads in my life if I want to focus on being a residence coordinator, or if I want to be a campus minister at a university or highschool. Pastoral ministry is all about joining people at the place in life where they’re at in the moment, so I would get to practice those skills. We’ll see what God has in store. My mom always says, ‘You can make a plan and God laughs,’ so those are my two pathways.
MM: What is your favorite thing about your major?
SW: I love how small it is, because you get to be best friends with everyone in your major, and the faculty and staff truly care for you. When you have three people in a class, they’re bound to get to know you. What’s great about my professors is that I’m not just a student, but I am someone they genuinely care for. When someone emails me throughout the summer asking me about how I’m doing, or emails me a picture of them in a CoWorkers in the Vineyard shirt, they let me know that “Hey, I’m really here for you.”